Monday, February 28, 2011

OTC scholarships open doors for students

Loyd Stockton (above) is currently using the OTC scholarship to begin his studies as an occupational therapy assistant. Stockton, whose wife works in the neuro unit at Cox South, is currently enrolled in OTC’s allied health studies program.

In the fall of 2010 the first students took advantage of the CoxHealth Scholarship at Ozarks Technical Community College.

Nicole Bargas learned about the scholarship from her dad, a respiratory therapist at Cox South.

“To be considered for the scholarship, the students must be a spouse or child of a CoxHealth employee and enrolled in a pre-allied health or allied health program,” says Stephanie Brown, director of development at OTC.

Allied health programs include: emergency medical technician, physical therapy assistant, medical laboratory technician and occupational therapy assistant. Other covered programs are Associate of Science in nursing, practical nursing, respiratory therapy, surgical technology or health information technology.

“I am taking classes in the physical therapy assistant program. Fall was my first semester at OTC and the scholarship was a great help,” says Bargas. After graduation she hopes to use her degree to work with athletes and sports teams.

CoxHealth and St. John’s each provide $25,000 per semester toward the scholarships.
“Both hospitals made a five-year commitment to OTC. This is a great opportunity for our students,” says Brown.

This scholarship benefits spouses and dependents of employees, as well as the community. “The scholarships help ensure that our community has professionals to meet the growing demand in health care,” says John Hursh, vice president of Human Resources at CoxHealth.

Hursh believes that many of the graduates who benefit from the scholarship will stay in the Springfield area.

“If their parents or spouse have a positive experience working here, then the graduate will be more likely to pursue employment at CoxHealth,” says Hursh.

Loyd Stockton, an occupational therapy assistant student, is interested in employment at CoxHealth after he graduates in May. Stockton was already enrolled in the allied health program at OTC when his wife, who works in the neuro unit at Cox South, told him about the new scholarship.

“The scholarship has helped with classes, books and the extra lab fees that are required for many of the allied health classes,” says Stockton. He chose this program after he volunteered at the nursing home where his mother works and he observed occupational therapists working with residents.

“I knew I wanted to work with patients and help them as much as I could,” he says.
Once students graduate from an allied health program, they also have the option of continuing their education at Cox College.

For more information about the CoxHealth Scholarship at OTC, visit

Friday, February 25, 2011

Nurse's quick action prevents a tragedy

On a Monday afternoon in early November, Linda Meeker was relaxing in her living room when her doorbell rang. As she got up to answer the door, she recognized the bearded gentleman standing on the porch and his silver Ford pickup parked on the street.

“As soon as I saw him, I knew who he was; he grabbed me and gave me a big hug,” Linda says.

The man at the door was Dallas “Doc” Pendergrass and he had come to see his hero. In minutes, Linda and Doc were talking like old friends, even though it was the first time they had spoken to one another. They had crossed paths once before, but only Linda remembered their first meeting. On that day just two weeks earlier Doc had been, for lack of a more delicate term, dead.

Now, he was very much alive, thanks to the quick action taken by Linda and her neighbors when Doc had the most terrifying event of his life, right in the middle of their street.

On the afternoon of October 14, Linda, a nurse in CoxHealth’s Women and Newborn unit, was enjoying the final day of her vacation. Just after the noon news on TV, Linda’s Husband, Chuck, headed out to pick up lunch. He had seen a pickup pulling a trailer pass the house and now, as he backed out of the driveway, he saw the pickup parked in the street. A neighbor was standing at the driver’s door and he flagged Chuck down.

Inside the truck, Doc Pendergrass was slumped over the steering wheel. Chuck opened the door and tried to wake Pendergrass. He was unresponsive and coated with sweat, which made Chuck fear he had had a heart attack.

“I called my wife and said, ‘You need to get out here right now, there’s a guy in trouble,’” he says. “She felt his pulse and said, “This man’s dead.’ It was terrifying, we just saw him drive past our house.”

A neighbor called 911 as Linda and Chuck lifted the driver’s limp, 160-pound frame out onto a blanket they had laid in the street. He didn’t have a pulse and he wasn’t breathing. Linda began CPR.

“I was praying the whole the time,” Linda recalls. “If God wanted this man to live, He needed to do something quickly.”

Linda says it’s difficult to guess how many minutes she spent performing chest compressions. Maybe five that felt like 10. But then, the man regained a weak pulse. And he began gasping for air.

“It was an emotional thing when he took his first breath,” Linda says. “All the time I was praying for God to help me, I remember that so well. It was his decision, not mine, to bring him back.”

Doc hadn’t regained consciousness, but he was breathing and Linda could hear the sirens of an approaching ambulance in the distance.

Doc was at Cox South for six days after the incident. He remembers coming down the Meekers’ street and getting ready to back into a neighbor’s driveway. His memory goes black at that point and the next thing he recalls is waking up in the hospital and desperately wanting to remove the tube in his throat.

“I just remember being scared. I realized something terrible had happened. I had never been in that bad of condition before,” he says. “All I could think of was my kids and my grandsons. It was quite a scary experience.”

His family told him about the nurse who had saved his life, but he didn’t hear the full story until he came to visit Linda and Chuck at their home.

“I’d been wanting to come meet these people,” Doc says. “When she came to the door, I told her, ‘I don’t care how big a boy your husband is, I’ve got to hug you.’”

As Linda and Chuck explained what had happened, Doc says he was amazed by what Linda had done for a man she had never met.

“It was emotional for me, I owe these people my life, literally,” he says. “I thank God for these people. I just can’t say enough.”

During and after his hospitalization, doctors at Cox performed a number of tests to try to understand what had happened to the 63-year-old retired carpenter. So far, a heart attack has been ruled out, but a root cause hasn’t been determined.

Linda says that whatever occurred, she’s just thankful she was in a position to help.

“You just never dream that something like this is going to happen,” she says. Linda has been a nurse at CoxHealth for 36 years and she says her regular training made doing CPR almost automatic.

“You never know when you start doing CPR on a person, especially outside of the hospital, what the outcome is going to be. It‘s amazing that he’s up and out of the hospital and able to come see me. That was a huge reward just to see that.”

Doc says that meeting Linda, Chuck and a few of the neighbors who helped out that day has been a life-changing experience.

“She saved my life and for that I’ll forever be grateful. I can’t praise these people enough for being the kind of people they are and for what they did,” he says. “They’ve really reaffirmed my faith in humanity.”

Support CMN Hospitals while you celebrate National Pancake Day this Tuesday

Join IHOP and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals of CoxHealth for IHOP’s National Pancake Day celebration Tuesday, March 1, from 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Visit any local IHOP location and receive one free short stack of IHOP’s famous buttermilk pancakes. While you eat, you can make a donation to help Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals provide financial assistance to the families of sick and injured children in the Ozarks.

For more information about IHOP National Pancake Day, visit or call the CoxHealth Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals office at 269-KIDS.

CoxHealth underwrites all administrative expenses of the charity locally, so that every dollar raised stays in our community and helps children. For more information on Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals or to donate, visit

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Eat at Chick-fil-A during Miracle Week, help local children

You can enjoy your favorite Chick-fil-A foods, and help CoxHealth Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at the same time. During Chick-fil-A’s Miracle Week, Monday, Feb. 28 – Saturday, March 5, mention Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals when you order.

Chick-fil-A will then donate 15 percent of your total bill to CMN Hospitals at CoxHealth.

For more information about Chick-fil-A’s Miracle Week, call the CoxHealth Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals office at 269-KIDS. Deliveries and gift card purchases are not included.

CoxHealth underwrites all administrative expenses of the charity locally, so that every dollar raised stays in our community and helps children. For more information on Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals or to donate, visit

CoxHealth needs volunteers in variety of areas

Whether it's bringing some cheer to a lonely patient, delivering flowers from loved ones or making a sick child less anxious, our volunteers have a great and lasting impact on our patients.

Currently, volunteers are most needed in the following areas:

• Information desks at all facilities – We need volunteers to help staff these areas, especially during the evening and on weekends. Duties include providing patient information from our directory and giving directions to visitors and callers.
• Gift Shops at all facilities – We need volunteers who can help customers make selections, run the cash registers, set up window displays, deliver items to patient rooms and more.

If you are interested, contact the Volunteer Office at 269-4169, or visit for more information and to submit an application.

Monday, February 21, 2011

New ICU's framework takes shape

The foundation for the new ICU at Cox South is now mostly complete and crews used last week’s nice weather to work on the building’s steel frame. Despite the snowstorm earlier this month, the project is still on schedule and scheduled to open as planned in October.

Media Technology’s Russ Weller captured these images of the construction on Friday. You can see the partial story at the top that will be glassed-in to allow for natural lighting similar to what we have in the Emergency Department. The space immediately under the clear story will be the new ICU and beneath it is space for the Materials Management department. The framework will continue to extend toward the north and join up with the existing ICU.

You can follow the ICU construction on by clicking the yellow hard-hat icon labeled “construction updates” on the main page. Not only will you read about construction activity, but you can watch the construction through a live web camera.

Monday, February 7, 2011

CoxHealth Stroke Center one of only 71 in U.S. to receive Stroke Association honor

The CoxHealth Stroke Center has been named to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Target: Stroke Honor Roll list. CoxHealth is the only health system in our area, and one of only 71 in the United States, to receive this honor.

This recognition is awarded to health systems that consistently treat tPA-eligible stroke patients within 60 minutes from the time they arrive at the hospital. tPA is tissue plasminogen activator, a drug that can dissolve the blood clots which cause most strokes.

Neurologist Scott Duff says stroke research has proven that faster treatment means better patient outcomes. “Quick treatment allows the return of blood flow and saves the starving brain cells from dying,” he says.

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every three minutes; and 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

Says Dr. Duff: “I am very proud of all the doctors, nurses and technicians that help us treat our patients quickly. But to get even better results, we need everyone to recognize a stroke FAST by knowing the warning signs. Is there Facial weakness, Arm weakness, or a Speech problem? If so, it’s Time to call 911 and get to the nearest stroke center.”

Foundation, CMN receive donations

The CoxHealth Foundation (above) recently received a $2,500 donation to the Hannah’s Hope – Rosh Jenkins Memorial Fund in memory of Rosh Jenkins, who lost his battle with cancer in 2010.

CoxHealth Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals recently received more than $7,000 from Spirit Halloween Superstores (above). The funds will be used to support the CoxHealth Child Life department.

The money was raised by asking customers for donations at the register. Their goal next year is $10,000 and could very well be possible with the addition of at least one more store in the Springfield area.

Food for a Woman's Heart set for Feb. 24

Sign up today for the "Food For A Woman’s Heart" event Feb. 24th at Touch Restaurant. Space is limited! The event is presented by Grove Spa and Touch Restaurant and the CoxHealth Foundation.

Grove Spa will have chair massage, mini facial and aromatherapy booths. The event will also feature a "silver bag" raffle that includes a free night's stay in a condo in Branson in every bag and other goodies. Also included in the festivities: a silent auction and fun education tips from the experts at Grove Spa and CoxHealth.

Go to to sign up today.

Sew your heart out this Valentine’s season

Are you handy with a needle and thread? If so, CoxHealth needs your help. The CoxHealth Volunteers are organizing a sewing day 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 15, in the Fountain Plaza Room at Cox North, 1423 N. Jefferson.

Help is needed sewing heart pillows for patients to use after open-heart surgery, eye pillows, and security blankets for hospitalized children. All materials will be supplied, and no experience is needed. Volunteers are welcome to stop by anytime they are available between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

If you would like more information, please call 269-9668.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Nurse reports for blizzard duty via tractor

When nurse Kamal Ibrahim woke up on Tuesday, he knew the weather would make it difficult to come in for his 2:30 p.m. shift in the rehab unit at Cox Walnut Lawn. As the snow fell in the late morning, he worked on digging out his van so he could drive in from his home on ten acres near Republic.

He was making his way down the driveway when his van got stuck. He called a couple of friends to help him get going again, but they were snowed in as well.

“I didn’t know what to do,” he says. He didn’t have a lot of options, but he did have access to one four-wheel-drive vehicle: his John Deere utility tractor. “I told my wife I was going to drive it. She didn’t want me to try it, but she could see I was determined to come in.”

Ibrahim packed a small bag of supplies, put it into the tractor’s front loader and took off. At roughly 7 mph, Ibrahim headed down U.S. 60 and onto James River Freeway.

The tractor has an open cab, so several layers of clothing were his only protection from icy temperatures and 40 mph winds. Blowing snow made for terrible visibility and Ibrahim found himself on the freeway with semis and other vehicles plowing through the blizzard.

“There were semis and trucks passing me and there was snow flying everywhere. I was a little bit anxious,” he says. “I was dressed very well, the only problem was my eyes. I was worried they might freeze; they were really burning.”

After a 15-mile drive that took more than two hours, Ibrahim made it to work. He arrived five minutes early. He stayed on at the end of his shift and he slept in one of the available rooms before catching a ride home with a co-worker late Wednesday morning.

CoxHealth’s Engineering department is planning to haul Ibrahim’s tractor back to his home in the next few days. Ibrahim says he’s not sure he’d try the trip again — “maybe if it were above 40 degrees”— but on Tuesday he was mainly thinking about the needs of his patients.

“That’s what it’s all about, helping our patients,” he says. “Some nurses couldn’t come in because of the snow, but people still needed care. Our patients deserve good care, so I decided I needed to come in.”

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A non-stop effort for grounds crew

Thanks to the work of the exterior maintenance team, CoxHealth campuses have had something rarely seen in Springfield over the last few days: clear pavement.

The team has been working since the early morning hours Tuesday to clean surfaces around CoxHealth campuses. Supervisor Barry Harter says the job is now mostly complete.
“My goal is to get to go home sometime today,” he says. “This takes a lot of people and a lot of equipment, but it’s gone really well.”

The effort has required more than 50 pieces of machinery and more than 100 workers over the last few days. The exterior maintenance team is made up of seven CoxHealth employees, who are joined by workers and equipment from Vaught Construction.

The crew lost track of the dump-truck loads of snow that were removed somewhere after the first 100 loads. Harter says you can see the magnitude of the effort in the piles south of the main parking lot and west of the construction trailers near Ferrell-Duncan Clinic’s parking lot.

“We’ve been running 10 dump trucks non-stop since 10 a.m. Tuesday,” he says.
Engineering director Dieter Reichmann says keeping surfaces clean is a big part of maintaining safety. Thus far, there have been no reported slips or falls on the campuses.

“Every one of these guys has done a fantastic job making sure the campus exterior is as safe as possible for our patients and employees,” Reichmann says.

Heading outside? Take precautions in blizzard's wake

After days of snow, wind and bitter cold, kids and adults alike are anxious to get outside. But there are still several safety factors you need to consider before you walk out the door.

Sledding is a fun winter activity, and one we don’t get many opportunities to enjoy in the Ozarks. But Jami Blackwell, Trauma Program manager at CoxHealth, says there are several things to consider to keep yourself and your kids safe on the Ozarks’ hills.

“One of the most important things is to be careful of where you choose to sled,” says Blackwell. She suggests avoiding hills that lead to streets, ponds, lakes and streams. “You’ll also want to choose a hill that’s free from obstacles like trees – collisions can lead to serious injuries. And remember that you can’t see what obstacles may be hidden beneath the snow,” she says.

Other tips include don’t sled alone, and don’t pull sleds behind four-wheelers, lawn mowers or any other motorized vehicle. “It’s very dangerous,” she says.

Blackwell says slips and falls among the elderly are also a big concern after a snowfall, and CoxHealth Emergency rooms and Urgent Care have been busy caring for these patients.

“I always remind the elderly to take extra precautions in the ice and snow. It’s very important they take a cell phone or some other type of communication device with them when they go outside, even if they’re just going to the mailbox. They need to be able to call for help if they need it,” she says. “And they need to watch for black ice.”

Finally, Blackwell says it’s important to bundle up. “The sun might be shining and it might look beautiful outside, but you still have to dress appropriately for the weather,” she says.